Roosevelt has now lost 16 straight games to open the season in boys basketball, but none most likely stung more than Tuesday’s 64-57 loss at home to Lincoln. A cross-town rival, a halftime lead, a solid night of shooting at 51% from the field, a tie game with 1:49 to play, and Roosevelt still couldn’t overcome the hurdle of notching its first win.
Lincoln outscored Roosevelt 36-23 in the second half and most of that credit goes to the Patriots’ defense. Although Roosevelt shot 51.4-percent from the floor for the game, the Riders were at just 37-percent in the second half, leaving the Patriots numerous possibilities down the stretch to widen the gap.
Diang Gatluak led the Patriots with 16 points. Simon Higgason had 14 and Alex Glanzer added10 for Lincoln (8-9).
“We do talk about it. It’s a simple fact that they are playing with everything to gain and nothing to lose,” Lincoln coach Jeff Halseth said about Roosevelt’s record. “They have nothing to lose by just going out there and playing hard, and they did. They knocked some shots down in the first half that put us in a little bit of a hole. I’d like to think our defense had something to do with that in the second half.”
Although another loss, the Riders were in this one. The 57 points is the Riders’ season-high and they never trailed by more than nine all night. After James Lauer scored a pair of free throws with 1:49 to play, Roosevelt had erased a seven-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to tie it at 52-52.
Roosevelt had a good look at a 3-pointer with 1:11 to play and trailing 57-55, but the long ball by Thane Hein rimmed out. Twenty seconds later, Higgison nailed a deep 3-pointer for Lincoln essentially sealing the win for the Patriots as they led 60-55 with 50 seconds to play.
The seven-point loss is actually something positive for Roosevelt as the Riders have not been in many games all season. It’s not just that Roosevelt (0-16) is winless, they’ve been getting hammered all season. Roosevelt entered the game losing by an average of 20.7 points per game. In its last four outings, Roosevelt has lost by an average of 27 points per game.
Throughout the season, Roosevelt barely gave itself a chance as they opened games miserably. Entering the game against Lincoln, the Riders had been outscored 242-156 in the opening quarter and 462-280 in the opening half. But Tuesday, they led after one quarter and 34-28 at halftime. The eight-point halftime lead matched Roosevelt’s biggest all night.
“We didn’t communicate very well in that first half and we left them wide open with some shots,” Halseth said. “We just told our kids at halftime that there is not a matchup out there where we cannot switch on. We did a lot better job in the second half on communicating on some of those picks they were setting out there.”
But the Riders caught Lincoln at the wrong time as the Patriots have now won four straight. It seemed only a matter of time before Lincoln would make a late push to secure the victory.
The Riders built the lead to eight at 21-13 on a Lauer 3-pointer with 6:10 to play. Lauer’s 3-pointer capped a solid and memorable minute for the junior. He hit two 3-pointers and swatted away an inside look from Gatluak, all in 35 seconds. Lauer was 3-for-3 from the 3-point line in the first half. He finished the night with 13 points. Jackson Reiff led all scorers with 17 points. He added six rebounds.
After getting down by eight, Lincoln tried to cut into the second quarter lead, but the Riders continued their surprising first half surge. Roosevelt was 5-for-8 from the 3-point line in the first half, including a banked in shot from the top of the key by Reiff with just over two minutes to play, tying Roosevelt’s biggest lead of the half at 32-24.
Diang Gatluak 6 2-2 16, Carson Coulter 2 0-0 4, Dillon Barrow 2 0-0 4, Alex Glanzer 3 2-4 10, Simon Higgason 4 4-4 14, Kaleb Dobbs 0 0-0 0, Christophe Bwanya 3 1-2 8, Jymell Nave 0 0-0 0, Andrew Tverberg 4 0-1 8. Totals: 24 9-13 64.
Davis Johnson 2 0-0 4, Jimmy Lauer 4 2-2 13, Peyton Riggs 3 1-2 8, Alex Fiegen 3 4-5 10, Thane Hein 0 202 2, Coby Nofziger 1 0-0 2, Austin Portner 0 1-2 1, Tong Akol 0 0-0 0, Jackson Reiff 6 4-8 17. Totals: 19 11-15 57.
Lincoln 9 28 45 64
Roosevelt 15 34 45 57
3-point goals – SFL 7 (Gatluak 2, Higgison 2, Glanzer 2), SFR 8 (Reiff 4). Rebounds – SFL 21 (Coulter 5), SFR 23 (Reiff 6). Assists – SFL 16 (Gatluak 4), SFR 15 (Riggs 3, Fiegen 3, Hein 3). Steals – SFL 11 (Gatluak 5), SFR 2 (Fiegen 1, Akol 1). Blocked Shots – SFL 1 (Gatluak 1), SFR 3 (Lauer 1, Hein 1, Reiff 1). Turnovers – SFL 11, SFR 16. Total fouls – SFL 18, SFR 14. Fouled Out – none.